Ragroof Theatre, Shall We Dance?

Review in Issue 19-4 | Winter 2007

One might have called this year’s Hat Fair a Wet Fair, as it was raining so much. Nevertheless, Ragroof Theatre braved the rain with winning smiles and tongue-in-cheek humour. In front of a traditional bandstand, on a wooden (now rather slippery) dance floor, an ensemble of nine guided the audience through years of social dancing history, from Charleston to Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Jive. The period tunes were mixed with the recorded voices of older people, creating a layered soundscape of memories about long-lost partners, and the rituals of ballroom courtship in yesteryear’s village halls and glitzy ballrooms. Occasionally, longer sections of text bring us individual stories of small vanities and jealousies, or sad memories of the wallflowers or of the disruption of young love by the ugly wailing of air-raid sirens. Essentially, a danced oral history, the set-pieces supported not only by the sophisticated soundscape, but also by a small cabinet exhibition/ installation called the Documentation Booth featuring photographs, sound recordings and video clips collected during the research period.

Although the rain worsened, the company saw it through to the end. The very wet floor curtailed some of the more showy moves in the jive scene, but the company kicked off their shoes and danced barefoot in the puddles. And the audience stayed – huddled under umbrellas. A very satisfying event. Entrance free, there was not even a busker’s hat around…. but I lift my hat in respect: Chapeau, Ragroof Theatre!

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Date Seen
  1. Jun 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-4
p. 34